WASHINGTON - The George Washington University Battleground 2006 Poll finds that the events of the past few months have created an anti-Washington mood among the American electorate. This leaves the door open on the question of which party will be able to translate these negative sentiments into major gains at the polls in 2006.
The data in the most recent GW-Battleground Poll shows that Washington leaders (both Democrats and Republicans) have lost the trust of broad segments of the American people. Low approval and issue handling ratings for both parties illustrate the dissatisfied views of voters and present an opportunity for changes.
Of the leaders tested in this latest GW-Battleground Poll, the image of both President George W. Bush (45% favorable/53% unfavorable) and Vice President Dick Cheney (42% favorable/51% unfavorable) are net negative. Equally negative are the image ratings of Democratic leaders like frontrunner for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination Sen. Hillary Clinton (45% favorable/51% unfavorable) and Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean (31% favorable/45% unfavorable). Of all the Washington leaders examined, only Sen. John McCain (65% favorable/18% unfavorable) has chiseled out a positive "bi-partisan" image with the American electorate.
This anti-Washington mood is clearly seen when voters are presented with a choice over which party is at fault for the current crisis in Washington. A strong majority (64%) of voters believe both the Democrats and the Republicans are responsible for the current problems facing Congress. The remaining voters see Republicans as more responsible by nearly a two-to-one margin, 20% to 11% who say Democrats are more responsible.
On the issue of congressional reform and lobbying reform, every reform tested, with one exception, has the support of at least two-thirds of the likely electorate. This includes diverse proposals like greater disclosure by lobbyists about their work and their level of congressional contacts (87% support), greater disclosure by members of Congress about their contact with lobbyists and about campaign contributions from lobbyists (86%), a broader gift ban (79% support), greater transparency on congressional pay raises (76%), increasing the lobbying ban on former members to two years (75%), changing the contribution limits on PACs and individuals (73%), banning lobbying on the floor of the House and in the House gym (67%), a broader travel ban (67%), and ending earmarks (59%).
Examining this year's results, Republican pollster Ed Goeas said, "The country is at a crossroads. While 58% of voters want a Congress that has the willingness to find practical, workable solutions for the nation's problems, 92% of those same voters believe that Washington puts partisan politics before the needs of the electorate. The political leaders of both parties in Washington suffer from this public perception. A great deal is needed for Washington to regain the trust of the American public."
Democratic pollster Celinda Lake said, "As dissatisfaction with the President and Republican-led Congress grows, voters are poised to affect sweeping change. Amid mounting news of scandals, including scandals that involve our national security, voters are expressing a desire for real checks and balances in Washington, D.C."
Christopher Arterton, dean of GW's Graduate School of Political Management, said, "While the approval ratings of President Bush and congressional Republicans continue to lag behind those of Democrats on top domestic legislative issues, Democrats still face an up-hill battle in the 2006 elections. The American public overwhelmingly agrees on lobbying reform and wants Congress to be more transparent in conducting business."
This bipartisan GW-Battleground 2006 Poll surveyed 1,000 registered likely voters nationwide Feb.12-15, 2006, and yields a margin of error of + 3.1%.
First conducted in 1991, this year marks the poll's 15th anniversary. It has accurately portrayed the political climate through four presidential and three mid-term election cycles. The GW-Battleground Poll continues to be an in-depth bipartisan look at the political climate and a leader in setting the standards for polling.
This nationally recognized series of scientific surveys is unique to the industry, in that it offers the distinct perspectives of two top pollsters from different sides of the aisle. The George Washington University is the sponsor of the GW-Battleground Poll, a highly regarded, bipartisan election survey conducted by top polling firms Lake Research Partners and The Tarrance Group.
The University's role in the poll is guided by its Graduate School of Political Management. GW's public affairs, public policy, and international affairs programs (undergraduate and graduate) are frequently ranked highly in leading publications, including recognition among the Top 10 "Most Politically Active" colleges and universities in the 2005 Princeton Review and as the "Hottest School for Political Junkies," according to the 2005 Kaplan/Newsweek How to Get Into College guide. The George Washington University also is one of the nation's best schools in fostering social responsibility and public service, according to the Princeton Review and Washington Monthly, which both included the University among its top-rated schools for community service in 2005.
Celinda Lake, Ed Goeas, and Christopher Arterton are available for comment. For Lake, please contact Daniel Gotoff at Lake Research Partners, (202) 550-0047. For Goeas, please contact Brian Nienaber at The Tarrance Group, (703) 684-6688. For Arterton, please contact Wendy Carey at The George Washington University, (202) 994-3087. This data also is available via the Internet at http://www.tarrance.com, http://www.lakeresearch.com, or http://www.gwnewscenter.org.
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